Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: Rehab (page 1 of 8)

Justice For My Beautiful Boy

Matt, it’s been 32 months and 27 days since you left my life.  Today I’m sitting on a plane heading into my nightmare.  My grief hitched a ride on my chest weighing me down knowing that my trip has nothing to do with joy.  This trip is to defend your life.  To sit in a room with men who believe it was fine to dump you at a hotel in a compromised state letting you die alone.

My soul is shaking as we fly closer to the reality that you won’t be picking me up as I land.   There will be no happy reunion between you and me.   No seeing your handsome face or hearing your voice.   No bear hugs while I sink into your arms feeling the warmth of your love wrap itself around my heart.

I am landing in enemy territory.   I am trying to keep my warrior mask intact but as we get closer I can feel the cracks forming as my fear of facing how you died smacks me like a brutal whip.   Grief and guilt have settled into my soul once again.   The what ifs and I should haves are dancing in my battered brain. Taunting me with what should have been and what truly is our reality.

I stare out the window into the clouds looking for you.   Looking for Jesus.   Searching for a sign on how I will survive this part of our journey.   I dreamed of returning to Florida.   I dreamed of visiting your new life.  Seeing you in recovery living life to the fullest.   I dreamed of walking on the beach side by side as we have so many times in the past.   I dreamed of what your future would hold as a husband and then a father.

These dreams now something that will never see reality.  Scattered like the ashes after a fatal fire in a fast moving wind.   I chase after the torn fragments of our life and hold them close to my heart.

Those dreams of what should have been will fuel my fight for justice.   I am here breathing where you took your last breath.   I am here letting my grief wash over me.  I am here gathering the strength to stand up to those who wronged us both.   I am here to defend my precious son.   I am here to tell the world your life was worth saving.   I’m here to let the world know I will never be silenced 💔💔💔IMG_1277

Lost in Paradise

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Matt.

We made it to the house we’ve rented in The Keys.   I listen to the excited voices of Ray and our friends.   I feel nothing except lost.  It’s been one month and eleven days since you left.   My life has become a before and after movie.   I replay the scenes over and over in my mind.  Searching for that missing piece.  Still not able to believe you are gone.  Life before you died was full of hope.  Full of promises and joy.  Dreams of your future, a wedding and grandchildren washed away with the outgoing tide.  Life now is unbearable.   This pain is constant, crushing my shattered heart.

The house is beautiful.  The perfect location.  I find myself going through the motions of living.  I find my mask and secure it to my face.  Trying desperately to hide my grief.  I listen to Ray and our friends.  Smiles and plans of sunshine filled days.   Kayaking and biking.  Everything I once loved to do in this beautiful place brings no joy.  I am numb.  The walking dead.

Sleep continues to elude me.  I toss and turn listening to the sounds of the sea.  I lay in the dark silently crying.  I wonder where you are.  I wonder if you know that you’re gone.  I wonder how I will every survive the rest of my life.

Days are spent pretending I’m ok.   I find myself drawn to the back of the house.  The turquoise sea surrounds me.  The sun kisses my cold skin with warmth.  Nothing can penetrate the ice surrounding my soul.  I stare out at the beautiful water and remember your smiling face.  I look for signs of your presence.  I think of this trip.  The planning.  The joy.  The excitement I would feel at seeing you again.  I close my eyes and see us walking together by the sea as we’ve done so many times before.   I feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare.  This did not happen.  You could not be gone.  My mind has become an enemy.   Never quiet.  Always replaying the scenes from our journey.  Forcing me to relive every moment.  Every decision, every fight.  I constantly rethink every little thing.  Hindsight continues to slap my face.   I beg for a redo.  I beg to wake up.  I beg for this to be a horrible mistake.

I sit in the warmth of the sun thinking of how things should be.  You should be spending the day at the beach enjoying your new life and I should be the happiest mom on earth.  You told me how blessed you were to be living by the sea.  I felt that blessing spread to me thinking you found your peace and I could finally take a breath.   Try to pray.   There is nothing left to pray for.   My years of prayers went unanswered.   I feel abandoned by God.

I’m surrounded by beauty but all I can think of is you.  I stare out at the sea and remember the words.   Those words that pierced my soul spoken by the man I trusted to keep you safe.  “People die here everyday”.   Those words run through my head like hot lava spitting from a volcano.   Smoldering and destroying everything in its way.   Were you not a human being?   A wonderful man with a horrible disease.   A loving son and brother or were you just a meal ticket for this man who tossed you away?  The more I remember those words, his I could care less attitude, his I’m too busy to talk about Matt when he finally returned my call, the more I want to scream.

I feel my grief changing.   I feel the hopelessness starting to fade.   An ember has started and a raging fire has erupted in my soul.   Who the hell does J think he is?   How can the state of Florida think that running sober living homes like he obviously does is acceptable?   What happened to you will never be right with me.  Florida, you pissed off the wrong mom.

My first call is to the Florida Office of the Attorney General.   I filed my complaint on the website but that is not enough for me.   I want to talk to this woman.   I want her to know what is going on in her state.  I want her to know that parasites are making a living off addicts.   I want her to know that your mother is outraged and won’t  accept your death quietly.

My next call is to The Department of Health and Human Services.   Next the Governor’s Office.   Your story is being told.   Tears and sobs escape with each phone call.   They are listening.   I feel a strength come over my being.   Like you are here rooting me on.   I owe this to you.   I let you down.  I live with regret everyday.  I had no idea you were flying into a death trap when I bought your ticket to Florida.  Now you are gone and I’m left behind.   The lone wingman.   The one Musketeer.   You and I had a bond like none other.   A bond that even your death cannot sever.   Memories of you flood my mind and break my heart.  Your laugh, your smile forever tucked safely away in my heart.

My ringing phone brings me back to reality.   Your story found it’s way to FARR.   Florida Association of Recovery Residences.   They have begun the battle against the J’s.   Those who prey on the people coming  to Florida for help.    We plan to keep in touch.

Our time here is over and I’m torn.   I want to go home and I want to stay.   A piece of my heart will remain in Florida.   Because of you I have a permanent bond with this state.  There is so much left for me to do.   I feel your spirit.  Your energy by the sea.  I close my eyes and see you standing on the beach you loved.   One of your last pictures before you died.   Joy radiating from your face.   Happiness finally found you only to be brutally ripped away.   You deserved so much more.

Its cold and grey when we land in Philly.   The weather mimics my soul.   We pull into the garage.   The house is silent.   There are no wet noses or wagging tales.   No “Hey Mom, Welcome Home”.   Just a dead silence that takes my breath away.   I drop my bags on the floor.   The memories of another homecoming flood my brain.   You were there.  The dogs on your heels.  Hugs and kisses.  Barking and wagging.  You were so proud of how you cleaned the house.  I remember your beaming smile, “Mom, everything’s done”.   “No dishes or dog hair”.   I remember your laugh.  “Bet your surprised”.

The cold slap of reality brings me back.  I am home and you are gone.

 

 

 

Navigating My Way Through The Turbulence Of Reality

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Matt.   The day is finally here.   The day I looked forward to for months.  The day I’d be able to hug you again.  To visit your new life.  To see your handsome face and see that famous grin.  I counted down the days for months.  The tickets were bought before you left me behind.  This trip we planned and I looked so forward to now filled with agony and despair.

Counting down the days until February 10th.  You remember.   Ray and I were flying down to Boca to spend the week with you before heading to The Keys.   You and I would walk on your beach.  I planned on stocking you up before we left.  Going to the grocery store and buying all your favorites.   Plans forming in my mind.  Lunches and dinners together.   Seeing where you called home.  Meeting your friends.  You were going to take us to meet your boss.   You were going to show us around Boca.  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.   Anticipating how I would feel seeing you in person after six long months.

Now, I’m dreading this trip.   I will be going to Boca, but not to see you.   This trip has turned into a nightmare.  You are no longer there.  Your cold body flew home on a snowy January night.  Your urn sits on my mantel along with every picture I could copy off your Facebook page.  My joy shattered.   My original  plans blown away on that cold January day.

Ray and I head to the airport.   The silence is deafening.   There are no words.  Nothing can be said to erase this ache in my heart.   Tears flow as I try to tell myself to be strong.   I need to do this for you.   One final act of love.  I must retrace your steps.   I must hear your story.   I must bring home whatever you left behind.   It’s all I have left of you.   The remnants of your life cut short by the disease that killed us both.

The airport is crowded with smiling faces.   Families waiting to fly off to warmer climates.   I watch and have to fight the screams trying to escape my soul.   My brain replaying your flight home.   The cancelations, the delays, the endless wait to see if that body was really you.   Denial was my savior until I saw you with my own eyes.  Your still, cold body.   Until I touched your face and ran my fingers through your hair my fantasy of a mistake allowed me to function.

Our flight is called.   We stand in line waiting to board.   I feel like I’m being led to a slaughter.   People rush past.   I’m struggling through the quicksand that surrounds my body.   Fighting to put one foot in front of the other to board the flight into the nightmare that has become my life.

We are seated.   I’m struggling for air.   Ray senses my distress and grabs my hand.   In my mind I’m running up the aisle.   Screaming to be let off this flight.   This is not the way things were supposed to be.   Suddenly we are airborne.   My throat is closing.   My heart is racing.   Ray adjusts the air above my head.   Sobs are escaping.   Racking my body.   I dream of disappearing.

Landing in Ft. Lauderdale we are met by friends.   They supported you on your journey and were the first ones who came running when the news of your death spread.   A cloudless, blue sky greets us.  The day is sunny and warm.   My body is  freezing.   My swollen eyes are hidden behind dark glasses.   Even the warmth of the sun can not penetrate the ice that surrounds my soul.

Foolishly, I allow myself the fantasy.   You are waiting for us.   I imagine how you would look.   I scan the crowd for you.   I imagine your face, your smile, the sound of your voice.   I crave being wrapped in your hug.   Oh God,  please help me walk through this hell that has become my life.  Tears run down my face as the over whelming waves of reality hit me in my gut.   You are not here.

The Boca Raton Police Station is located in the heart of Boca.   We pull into the parking lot.   I feel the grief grabbing my throat.   I am silently being strangled.  I am telling myself to get out of the car.  My legs have turned to rubber as I struggle to move toward the door.   The door that will lead me to the truth.  The door that contains the information that will yield the final blow to my heart.

We are met by the detective assigned to your case.  I find it hard to make eye contact.   His eyes are full of pity.   His eyes were the last ones to see your lifeless body.  His eyes and hands touched you before I knew you were gone.  I want to reach out and touch his hand to my face.  I want to connect to this man who covered your handsome face in that hotel room.

He shares the facts of your last hours on earth.   He tells of your relapse.   Your distress.   Your being dumped at a hotel by the man who cashed my checks and lied to me about keeping you safe.   I sit there listening and feel a power come into my being.   The more I hear, the more I want to know.   Grief is replaced with anger.   I want to hear the ugly, dirty details of how you were tossed away like a piece of garbage.   How instead of getting you to safety,  this man disregarded your distress and left you to die.   I feel you there.   Giving me strength.   Pointing me to this new journey.   My wingman,  now my angel guiding me along this unfamiliar,  jagged, ugly path.

Your possessions are now brought into the room.   Paper bags marked evidence hold the last of you.   My hand shakes violently as I try to sign the release form.  My signature unrecognizable and damp with my tears.   There is nothing left to tell.

The sun blinds my swollen eyes.   I get into the backseat and hug your clothing to my heart.   Sobs come as my dam breaks.  My anger replaced with overwhelming pain.

Our next stop is Deerfield Beach.   Crossing the bridge from Boca to Deerfield,  I hear your voice.   You could not hide your excitement.  “Mom,  I found a job”.   “I’m going to be welding”.   “Got hired on the spot.”    I could see your smile over the phone.   The pride returning to your voice.   Your excitement found it’s way to my heart.   Oh God,  thank you.   My prayers answered.

The stopping car brings me back to reality.   I take a deep breath and walk into the door of Precision Aluminum.   We are greeted by your boss who’s face says it all.   Still shocked that you are gone.   He walks us through the shop and shows us where you spent your days.   He tells us what a great guy you were.   How you fit right in and felt like one of the family.   He tells us how your death has deeply affected your co-workers.   I am numb.   I picture you sitting on your bench.   You posted pics of you wearing your welding mask that proud smile spreading across your face.   Your head wrapped in your trademark bandana.   My fantasy interrupted by his voice.   He takes us outside and shows us your car.    He tells us he admired you riding your bike miles to get to work.   After riding through several soaking rainstorms he offered you a car.   I remember seeing your first post.   You standing in front of this beautiful Camaro.   You called her your baby.   A sob escapes as I open the door and see your shirt hanging over the back seat.   Your bandana tied around the mirror.   I am no longer in control.   The sobs of a wounded animal escape my soul.    My brain losing the fight to keep me sane.

Ray leads me to the car.   I am gone.    I hold your bandana to my face.   Steel and sweat fill my senses.   Your smell finds its way to my shattered soul.   Your scent so welcome,  I clutch all I have left to my heart and try to silence my screams.

We head to the beach you loved.   The one you told me so much about.   Spending weekends hanging out with friends.   Swimming in the warm surf.   I picture you walking toward me as I walk alone.   I need to be where you were.   I need to feel the sand that you felt and walk into the surf where you played.   I need to feel you.  My grief, now as powerful as the surf begins to pound my brain and is slowly transforming into anger.

I google the address where you lived.   I picture myself walking up to the man who tossed you away like a piece of trash.   I want him to see my face.   I want him to meet your mother in the flesh.   The women who believed his lies and signed the checks.  I want to dare him to say the ugly  words he spoke as I sobbed.   I want him to repeat what he told me when he finally had the balls to respond to my screaming messages.   I want him to look at your broken mom and tell me that “People die here everyday”.    Those words forever branded in my brain.   People like you.   Those he vowed to help.    His so called clients not worthy of saving.   I picture myself squeezing his throat.   I want him to know how I feel everyday.   I want him to experience the terror of not being able to catch your breath.   I want to watch the color drain from his face.   I want my face to be the last thing he sees as I say your name.

I am out of control.   Ray has called ahead knowing that I am breaking.   We are leaving Boca ahead of schedule.   I can take no more.

We hit the seven mile bridge.   I open my eyes.   I’m surrounded by a turquoise sea.   I hold tight to your shirt, roll down my window and drink in the sea air.   I am physically broken, mentally spent.    I look ahead at the vastness surrounding me and feel you with me.   “Hey Mom, are we there yet?”   You were always in such a hurry to reach our next destination.   “Mom,  how much longer?”   I see you as a little boy always curious.  Your little tow head in my rearview mirror.   Oh Matt,  I am so lost.   I have no idea where I am going.   Where my next journey will lead.    Right now I need to learn to breath.   To learn to accept the ending to your journey. I close my eyes and hear the gulls crying.    I listen and hear your name.

 

 

The Revolving Door Of Rehab

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                                                        The Revolving Door of Rehab

Matt,  to my surprise you are being discharged.  I’m still sitting by your side when the nurse appears with your paperwork.   She goes over your instructions looking you straight in the eye.  She doesn’t sugar coat what you have done. She explains cardiac arrest due to the hit of Cocaine.  She tells you how lucky you are to have survived another brush with death.  She tells you your body will not survive another assault.  She tells you that your addiction is no joke and that you will die if you don’t stop.

I sit there listening to another nurse trying to save my son.  A nurse just like me who can see through the demons to the person you used to be.  I wonder if hearing this from a stranger would have any more impact on what you did next instead of hearing it again from your constantly nagging Mom.  You sign the papers and start to get dressed.  Your battle scars visible.  Brushing on your chest from untrained CPR.  A new site reddened from another IV.  I sat and watched and wondered how many more times your body and my heart could handle another close call.

You tell me you are riding with Mike.  You are going back to your house.  There is no smile or I’m sorry this time.  You thank the nurse and walk out.  My face must say it all.  The nurse puts her arm around me as the tears fall.  “It’s been such a long battle” I tell her.  “I don’t know where to go from here”.

Mike finds me to tell me he’s taking you to get your truck.  Left behind at the scene of your crime.  He will try to get through to you.  To try to get you to understand the seriousness of what you have done.  He needs to talk to his brother without me crying and ranting about your addiction.  I feel nothing.  Another time I would have fought to be with you.  To once again tell you how your addiction is killing our family.  To cry and plead for you to care enough about your life.  To tell you I would not survive if you died.  This time I get into Ray’s car and allow myself to be alone with my thoughts.  Still trying to believe that you used Cocaine.  Not quite understanding how you could have been home and appearing so clear one minute than almost dead the next.  How can a non-addict ever understand how the mind of an addict works.  Every book I read and conference I attended did not prepare my heart for the actual living experience of being the mother of a man who threw all caution to the wind to chase a high.

My once calculating mind was shut down.  There was no save Matt plan forming in my brain.  I kept touching my body testing my sense of feeling as my heart and brain had gone numb.  There was nothing I could say to Ray to defend you.  I always believed your excuse of back pain for your overuse of Percocet.  Your anxiety about life for Xanax, but there was no excuse that my brain could rationalize for using Cocaine.  I realized I found excuses for everything you did.  Always trying to make sense of your life.  Denying that you were that addict I prayed you would never be.  I remember feeling so defeated.  This was a battle and your addiction was winning.  I tried to think that maybe you would learn your lesson and try to get serious help.   How many more rehab admissions would it take before you had your ‘ah ha’ moment?  Knowing that your heart had stopped should have shocked you into running for help.  For you this time, not me.  I began to realize that every admission was because of me.  Me wanting to save you.  Me begging and pleading for your life.  Me forcing you to go “or else”.  Now I wonder just exactly what my “or else” really meant.  I knew in my heart that tough love wasn’t for me.  I tried to kick you out.  Leaving you to your own devices and pretending not to care.  I remember telling myself I could be just like those tough Moms who’s books I read.  Kicking their addicted kids out of the house.  No food, no phone, no money, no contact.  Dear God, tough love was tougher on me than you.  Somehow addicts find and take care of each other.  I would drive to all your haunts hoping for a glimpse of you.  Reassuring myself this was the right and only way to save you.  I would lie awake at night and pray that you were safe.  That you wouldn’t be that addict I would read about in the paper.  The one who died in a park or fast food bathroom.  I tortured myself all the while hanging onto those books that had become my lifeline.  The books that made me believe I wasn’t a hateful, horrible mother.  I was a mother trying to play the game of saving her addicted son.  The games where there are no stead fast rules.  The game where what works for one might not work for another.  This game had two endings.  Survival or tragedy.   I couldn’t survive the tragedy of losing you forever.  So I would let you come home with the chaos packed in your bag.  The cycle would start again.  Promises made only to be broken.  Hope turned into hopelessness.  The ugliness of your addiction flowed through our home like a dirty mudslide.  Leaving nothing untouched.  Tainting everything it flowed over.  Smothering everything that stood in it’s path.

I foolishly allowed myself to believe we were making progress.  Me paying rent for you to live in what I thought was a safe place.  Living with a buddy from N.A. gave me a false sense of security that maybe you would follow the influence of another who walked your walk.  I’ve read that the best person to help an addict was another addict.  Once again your behavior shattered my illusion.

So now I am back to spy Mom.  If you won’t come to me, I”ll spy on you.  We haven’t spoken since you left the hospital.  I’m praying you have finally embarrassed yourself enough and just can’t face your broken mother.  I want to talk to you.  I need to see you.  I start a new pattern of drive by’s.   Crouched down like a spy in the front seat of my car.  My ball cap hiding my curly mop.  It’s almost funny.  Once again, I feel so proud of myself.  I’m that cool mom again.  I can do this.  I look for your truck.  I am flooded with  relief when I see it in the driveway.  This has become my new high.  At least I know where you are.  Day and night I drive by.  It’s become my addiction.  Ray looks at me like I’ve lost my mind when I grab my keys at midnight and walk out the door.  I read his thoughts.  Yup, I’m the crazy mom checking up on her adult addict son.  Oh, by the way, I lost my mind years ago.  I fight the urge to knock on your door and tell you I still love you.  I need to see you, to touch you, to hear your voice.  I fight my internal battle.  The loving mother fighting the tough love mother.

This craziness goes on for weeks.  Every morning and every night I become spy mom.  Oh how I’m loving this.  Sneaking around your place.  I’ve become bold enough to look through windows.  What I didn’t realize was you were watching me watch you.

I’m turning into your neighborhood when my phone rings.  I hit my ear piece and say hello.  “Hey Mom”.   The sound of your voice causes my heart to race.  “Hey Matt” I say trying to sound like I’m relaxing at home not getting ready for my drive by.  “You’re late tonight,” you say as you start to laugh.  “Late for what?”  I respond trying to act like I have no idea what you’re talking about.  “You usually do your house check before now”.  “I’ve been waiting”.  “What?  Matt I have no idea what you are talking about”.  Before I get my car in reverse, you are there.  Smiling that smile and pointing your finger at my face.   Ok spy Mom now what?

I get out of my car and walk to where you are standing.  “Mom, you know you’re as crazy as they come”.   You give me a much needed hug.  Your laughter is contagious and soon we are both howling in the street.  “Yup Matt, crazy I am”.  I try not to start my lecture.  I want to just be.  To just talk like we used to before the ugliness found us again.  I must admit you looked ok.  Your eyes and speech passing my scrutiny.  We sat on your steps and for a minute it felt like normal.  A mother hanging out with her son.  Just sitting and talking together.  Normal.  A word that felt foreign in our lives.  “Matt”.  “Yeah Mom”.  “Do you understand how close you came this time?”  I close my eyes and remember Ray screaming.  “Do you understand how hard this has been on all of us?”  I’m trying not to lecture.  I don’t want to start a battle.  I just want to get you to understand you crossed the line.  “Matt you need help you really do”.  “I have to stop denying how sick you are, you could have died”.  Tears start to fall as I talk.  You put your arm around me.  “Mom, I could never hurt you like that, I love you too much”.   We end the conversation with a promise.  You will work on yourself and I will stop acting crazy.  I tell you to come home any time you want.  I miss the Matt I know you can be.

We slip into a new rhythm.  Dinner twice a week.  Little by little I’m allowing a little bit of hope into my heart.  I’m sure you are still using but it doesn’t appear that you are abusing.  Mike and Ray tell you how great you look.  How nice it is to have Matt back.  We are all starting to let our guard down and allow the idea of returning to a world without chaos or demons.  I feel like I have my family back.  We have been through hell but we have somehow survived.  We laugh about how ugly we fought and try to find some humor in the roller coaster from hell that we now referred to your addiction.  Oh God, how great this was.  I continued to watch for the signs I knew too well.  I must admit you really pulled it off.  Convinced all of us you were on the road to recovery.

My phone rings and I see it’s Mike.  Ray and I were relaxing at home for once not thinking about what you were up to.  “Mom, is Ray there?”   “Yeah Mike he’s here, why?”  “Give him the phone”.  Ok now my heart is starting to race.  I don’t like the tone in your voice.  I see Rays face and know.

Matt you left Mikes and just couldn’t wait until you got home.  You were high at the scene.  Mike got there first and watched your truck get towed away.   You told him you witnessed an accident.  You had no idea you caused it.  Fell asleep at the wheel.  The only reason you were alive is because you were so relaxed.    You are taken to the police station.  Blood is drawn.  Mike brings you home.

Once again your addiction shattered my heart.  Like the bumper on your car its smashed beyond recognition.   Mike, Ray and I try to remain calm.  Ray looks defeated.  Mikes pacing and ready to pounce.  My emotions are constantly changing.  One second I want to slap some sense into you.  Lecture you once again about how close you came to dying.  The next second I want to tell it will be ok.  For now you will remain home and I once again start formulating a plan to save you.

I lay in bed that night and thank God you are still here.  I feel comforted knowing that you are downstairs and are trapped for the time being.  Now the police are involved.  Your blood work will tell the story of your addiction and I pray you will be mandated into rehab.  I ask myself what kind of mother wants her son arrested?  What kind of mother would want her addicted son to serve time and hopefully get the help he so desperately needs?   Oh God, what kind of mother have I become?

There is no getting out of it this time my sweet boy.  You have landed in a place that even supermom can’t fix for you.  “Mom, I’m sorry”.   “Matt, save it”.  “This time you will face your consequences and my hands are tied”.   “There is nothing more I can do except love you and hope this opens your eyes”. I’m surprised at my sense of relief.  For the first time I don’t feel like I have to formulate a plan to fix this.  I feel like the weight of your addiction is finally off my shoulders.  I allow myself the fantasy that finally the stars have aligned and you will get what you need.  The Mom police have been replaced by the real ones and this Mom is more than relieved.

I am preparing my speech for your court date.   I will beg and plead for treatment.  I will spill my guts, get down on my knees and beg for your life and mine.  I picture myself visiting on weekends and watch you transform back into the Matt we lost so long ago.  I’m sitting at my computer when your phone rings.   I pretend not to overhear.  I hear you yelling and jumping for joy.  Now I’m on my feet and by your side.  “What are you talking about?”  I grab your phone and interrupt your joy.  “This is Matt”s Mom, what is happening?’  “What, you what?”  Now I’m the one yelling not out of joy but disbelief.  “You lost his blood?”  “Tell me this is a sick joke?”  “How incompetent are you people?”  At this moment in time I don’t care who is on the receiving end of my rant I am pissed.   I continue my questions watching your smile spread from ear to ear.  You look like you just won the lottery and I want to crawl through the phone and strangle the messenger.

Matt, you just can’t believe that I’m not sharing in your joy.  You look at me like What the Hell mom and proceed to dance your way downstairs.  There are no words.  My brain is screaming.  Plans to keep you safe shattered at my feet.  I am surprised at my disappointment.  I really wanted you to finally be held accountable by someone other than me.  By someone who wouldn’t be twisted by your beautiful eyes and smile.  Someone who didn’t see that tow-headed boy change into this man you have become.  Someone with the power to finally fix you.

I return to my computer.  Hold my finger on the delete button and watch my pleas for your life disappear.  I feel my familiar friend hopelessness wrap her arms around me.  I want those ruby red slippers.  Three clicks of my magic heels and I’m gone.  Why does this keep happening.  Every plan, every hope, every dream of getting you back shattered like glass at my feet.

As if by magic a pop-up appears.   The question, Are you in need of a rehab in your area?    Seriously,  I click the link and just like magic pictures and numbers dance across my screen.   Ok God, are you telling me something?   So now it’s me who’s smiling as I write down names and number and formulate my plan B.

“Mike, I need your help”.  I tell Mike the latest and prepare my ears for the onslaught of his opinion on our justice system.   “I know I couldn’t believe it either”.  “It’s like he has a Fairy Godmother of Addiction on his shoulder.   Comes out smelling like a rose every time, a very stoned rose, but a rose non the less.   I’ve called rehabs.  There are beds available.  We need to convince him to go.  I have a plan……

Mike takes you back to his house to get you out of my house under the premise of you helping with his truck.  You are still a great mechanic when you are straight and this time brother bonding was all part of my plan.   You see my sweet boy, you’ve been wanting a Harley for sometime.  I’ve got control of your money.  You want a Harley.  I want rehab.  Let’s make a deal….

Waiting for the phone call was like waiting for the stick to turn positive after years of trying.  Nothing I did would take my mind off of what was happening between my boys.  I knew Mike could be very persuasive when he needed to be, but I also had years of dealing with the I’ve got this attitude of Matts.   Finally I hear the ringing of the call that would either make or break me.   “Mom”.  I could hear it in Mike’s voice.  Yes, yes, yes.  My brain is doing the happy dance.  Matt will go.  Those three little words that meant the world to this exhausted, beaten up addicts mother.  I felt like I just won the lottery.  My heart once again feeling little pangs of hope.  I hung up and immediately started to dial the numbers that made promises to provide the best of the best and so on and so on.

I fly downstairs and pack your things.  The list in my head.  I moving like the house is on fire.  Ray walks in and looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.  “Matt’s going to rehab”.  Now Ray is flying around with me double checking my checklist.    Bags are packed and waiting in the hallway.  Now I wait for the usual suspect to make his appearance.  Finally Mike delivers my prey.  I know from everything I’ve read that you can waste no time once your addict says yes.  You walk in and I give you a hug.  “Matt, it’s really the best thing”.   “I am so proud of you for agreeing”.   You look at me with those eyes and laugh.

Ray joins us on the ride to Bowling Green.  I keep telling you how you are doing the right thing.  How you need to get clean and stay clean.  I’m silently praying that this time you will get it.  I’m so tired of the revolving door of recovery that I just want to jump off.  I continue to act light and fluffy the entire journey.  I’m so sickening sweet I make myself sick.  We pull up and I see the fear spread over your face.  Oh God, please don’t let him change his mind.  You grab a smoke and start puffing.  I start begging for your life.

Finally we enter the building.  You look around like a kid on the first day of school.   My heart is in my mouth.  My fear of you bolting is overwhelming.   Then I see a group of you.  Men and women sporting tattoos, smoking cigarettes and smiling in your direction.  They are you and you are them.  All beautiful people fighting the same battle you fight.  All looking happy and healthy.  I remember the saying I read somewhere,  The best person to help an addict is an addict.  Well my beautiful Matt you were surrounded by addicts.

Ray and I were led to the waiting room while you were taken back for the admission assessment.   I had to keep telling myself to breathe.  I remember tasting blood not realizing that I started to chew the inside of my lip.  Oh Dear God.  I prayed nothing would stop you from being here.  I wanted you to be safe.  I wanted you to get healthy.  I wanted you back.

I’m so lost in my thoughts I don’t see you enter the room.  Our eyes meet.  “It’s all good Mom I’ll stay”.    I jump out of my chair and into your arms.  “Matt, please do what you need to do this time, let’s get off the rollercoaster and back to a normal life”.  The three of us are hugging and laughing so relieved that you are on board this time.   Ray goes to get your things from the car and I sit and hold your hand.  “Matt, this is the right thing to do”.  “Please work the program”.  “Get your life back”.   “Stay as long as it takes”.   Once again I’m begging for your life.   Ray and I are given guidelines for visiting as we take time for one more hug.   I look into your beautiful eyes and silently beg you to get it right.

I praised God all the way home.  Finally letting myself have the fantasy that this would be it.  This would be your Ah ha moment just like all my books lead you to believe.  Never give up they tell you one time it will click.  Recovery will happen.  Oh how badly I needed this to be that time.

The drive home was peaceful.  I could finally take that deep breath knowing you were safe.  I felt like the weight of the world was off my weary shoulders and I allowed joy to re enter my life.   There was no communication with you until visiting on Sunday.  I allowed myself that time to remember who I was and to start working on me.  I had become so addicted to your addiction that I forgot about all the things that made me happy.  I could now spend my evenings at home with Ray enjoying a glass of wine and normal conversation that didn’t revolve around you.  I almost forgot there were other things to talk about besides my son’s addiction.  I felt so much lighter that week.  Everyone noticed.  saving babies became my focus again.  No longer worried about missing your call I could now concentrate on my tiny patients and their overwhelmed moms.

Sunday arrived and it was Mike who wanted to come with me to see you.  The rules only allowed two family members on visiting day.  Mike wanted to see for himself that you weren’t playing games but were really invested in saving yourself.  We meet in the parking lot.  Both of us feeling the same anxiety over who you would be.   Would you be that pissed off Matt, ugly and angry that you were trapped in rehab or would you finally understand that this was where you needed to be.  We must sign in and sit through a lecture by one of the counselors before we can see you.  I look around and see carbon copies of me.  Parents in all shapes and sizes.  All showing the same signs of stress, brokenness and a glimmer of hope.  We smile at each other knowing we have fought the same battle to save our kids and now we sit together as comrades, as wounded warriors.  The aftermath of our child”s addiction.

Matt, that was the longest hour of my life.  All I wanted to do was look into your eyes and see that you were back.  Finally the talk has ended.  We are lead to a large courtyard overlooking a pond.  Mike and I are like two rubber bands pulled to our snapping point.  We don’t speak but can read each others thoughts.  Then I see you.  I grab Mike’s arm and point.  There you are.  My handsome, sober son.   You look amazing.  Your gait is strong and steady.  You approach with caution.  “Hi Mom, Mike”.  Your eyes are clear.  Sparkling like pools of green sea water.   Tears start to fall as I recognize my beautiful boy is back.  You wrap Mike and I in a group hug.  Now we are relaxed and laughing.  Hugging and hugging as relief floods are bodies that you are working to save your life.  The hour flies by.  We sit on a log near the water.  My boys together like it used to be.  No screaming, no ugliness just two brothers hanging out  catching up on life.  I watch you and Mike and feel my heart fill with joy.  Oh God, thank you, thank you.   My prayers have been answered.

You are there for two more weeks.  I now live for the weekend visits.  You tell us how you hated the person you became.  You never wanted to become addicted and lose everything you worked so hard for.  You expressed such remorse my heart broke for everything you had endured.

Our last visit is forever burned in my memory.  You sitting on our log.  So handsome.  Happy and full of plans.  Staring into my eyes with so much love.  A silent thank you for never giving up.   You told me you were being discharged that week.  I remember feeling that chill run up my spine.  I managed to keep my face from showing the fear that flashed through my mind.  Questions spinning in my brain.  Had you been here long enough?  Did you have the skills needed to fight if the cravings returned?  I wanted you to stay here forever.  In this safe, protected place.  I wasn’t ready for you to face the world again.  You told me you were ready to move on.  I knew I couldn’t hold you back.  “Mom, I’m so glad I got the monkey off my back”.  I remember those words and should have known that monkey was still hanging around..

You tell me of a place your counselor has recommended.  Your eyes lit up when you mentioned Florida.  “The Boca House”.  “Mom its supposed to be  great place”.  My mind fighting to keep my face in control.  Oh God, so far away.  Keeping my thoughts quiet I force a smile.  “Mom, I’ll be near the beach again”.  “You know how I love the beach”.   You were animated like a child anticipating a visit from Santa.  How could I stop something you wanted so badly.  I read about The Boca House in one of my addiction bibles.  The authors son lived there and survived.  Why would it be any different for you?  I gave you a hug and held on tighter and longer than usual.  A thousand miles away.  Oh God,  you’ve never been that far from me.  I remember struggling with you being so far away and asking about other places close to home.  Someplace I could visit and watch for the signs I knew too well.  You had already made up your mind.  For you it was Florida or bust.   I thought about how many times I’ve heard that people in recovery do much better with different people, places and things.  Well Florida would be full of that.  Little did I know that Florida was also full of hiding demons.   If I had only known what I know now I would have held you forever.

The Witch and the Warlock Head to Warwick

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Matt.   As pissed as I am that you have been released,  I am amazed at how great you look.   The old Matt is back.   Clear eyes and speech.   Your handsome face showing no signs of the horror that unfolded in my driveway so few nights ago.    Still I’m pissed.  I want my life back.  I want my son back.  I’m so sick of what your addiction has done to our family.   I’m so sick of the so called professionals thinking they know what you need.   My letter fell on deaf ears.  Told your addiction story and no one cared.   You are not safe.   I can feel it.  I know you better than you know yourself.   I have lived this nightmare way too long to think that a few nights in a mental hospital is just what the doctor ordered to fix you.   I’m so tired, so  disappointed and so pissed at this stupid broken system.

So now we begin again.   I choose my words carefully.   Your anger is seeping from your pores.   I hold my breath as I ask you about your plans.   I know you are not strong enough to fight the constant cravings for the poison that rules your life.   I know you need to get into rehab and I can’t believe you were released to the streets.   WTH is wrong with this picture.   How many times do we do this same dance.   Round and round we go.   Let’s not speak the word.. REHAB.  Let’s not say the word ADDICT.   I try to keep my cool.   Try to be the mother I want to be but cannot.  You know, the one who wears the rose colored glasses and lives in denial.   Or maybe the one who is strong enough to play the tough love game.   Dropping you off, driving away and never looking back.  But we both know I am neither.  As much as I hate this world that has become ours, I’m in it as deep as you are.   This chaos has become my way of life.   Your addiction has become mine.

I ask if your hungry.   You are.  So it’s off to lunch.   It’s a beautiful day and we pick a seat outside.   Your favorite burger joint.   I’m hoping this will help lighten the funk surrounding us.   I look at you as you scour the menu.   You are so handsome.   Your eyes are bright and clear.   Your face with no signs of puffiness.   No head bobbing today,  no dosing off while we eat.   My heart is afraid to love this Matt.   I fear he will be gone soon and my heart will break again.   I decide to enjoy this moment.   This gift of normal.   Just a mother and her son enjoying a beautiful afternoon.   You start to lighten up.   You tell me how great it is to be aware.   To taste, to smell, to be here and feel everything.   Oh God, I bust out in tears.   Holy shit, my dam has broken and the tears are running down my face.   You grab my hand.   “I’m so sorry Mom”,    I’m sobbing into my napkin making a fool of myself.   The waitress comes quickly.   Oh God, I’m so embarrassed.    No, no, the food is great.  Everything is great.   My son is here.  Today, this very moment Matt is here.   My heart is gone.  Forget trying to save it,  I have prayed for this for so long.   My brain knows we are on that slippery slope.  We are still in the woods.   We are no where near being finished with this disease, but my heart is soaring with the clouds.   Just today  Dear God,  just today, Matt is here.

I decide to bring you home.   I will once again be the mom police.   I will save you from yourself.   Watch you like a hawk.   I’m off and I will follow you like a dog.   No car, no leaving the house without me as your wing man.   Once again,  I allow myself to enter my disillusional world.   I will put on my supermom suit and save the day.   I will be The Queen of Hearts and slay your demons.   No one will get close enough to drag you back into your darkness.   How hopeful and  foolish.   I allow myself the fantasy of normal.

My plan is working.   Everyday you are clean.  You are far from being happy, but you are clean.   Everywhere you go I go.   Wawa for smokes, ok let’s go.   If looks could kill I’d be dead, but the longer you are clean the more hopeful I become.   Fantasy land is beautiful.   I’m Alice and we are living in Wonderland.      My anxiety of returning to work after my week of supermom duty was through the roof.   Heavy heart, tight chest, closing throat all my familiar reactions to the impending storm rolling into my fantasy.   Addicts mother’s intuition.

I could feel it from the distance.   The return of the demons.   “Please Matt,  stay home,  stay clean”.   “Remember how great it feels to smell and taste and be here in the moment”.   I’m begging you for your life and you are pushing me out the door.   Your truck is in the driveway just like we left it or so you thought.   My chalk mark confirms my angst.   You left the house.   I put on my happy face and pretend.   You are asleep, slumped over on your couch.   Pill residue on your nose.   I scream silently and hear my heart crash into land.   I quietly search and find a tissue in your bathroom holding the pills I’ve come to know so well.   Noooooooooo.   I’m holding the evidence but my mind still screaming doesn’t understand.   Why? why? why?   How could you do this again?  How could you do this to me?   I quietly watch your breathing.   Tears running down my face.   Ok Supermom,  whats the plan now?

You come upstairs.   You know I know.  “Mom, where are they?”   “They?,  you mean the bastard pills that keep finding their way back into our lives”.   “Don’t know Matt, I just don’t know”.   You turn on me like a snake.   I look at you with a feeling over overwhelming sadness.  “WTF Mom”.   “I’m not playing this game, give me my f…… pills”.    I walk away as you punch the wall.   I am broken, numb.   I tell you the only way to get your pills is to get into my car.   There is a bed waiting for you at Warwick.   I have packed a suitcase and have it by the door.   You walk out and drive away.

I sit alone and wait.   There are no  tears.  I am numb.   I’m dead inside.   My heart still beats but I feel nothing.   Hours pass and I wonder where you are.   I wonder if you have more pills.  I wonder if I will ever see you again.   This time it’s me sleeping when you come back.   You are agitated, sweaty and pissed.   It’s early morning and you are desperate.    “Mom please”.    I throw on clothes and come downstairs.   “Mom please”.    “Get in my car”.    “WTF mom, WTF”.   “Get in my car and you get the pills”.    “Bitch”.    Yes Matt,  Supermom is now Super bitch.

The drive to Warwick was like being trapped in a burning building.   Like slowly having the air replaced with soot that burned your lungs and turned everything it touched into black slime.   You were withdrawing from whatever and I was driving like a mother on a mission.   The words coming out of your mouth stung my ears and I tried to block you  out.   LALALALA,  I tried to remember this voice was not yours but the demons who now controlled your mind.   Your filthy mouth, your ugly words,  “You F…….Bitch, who do you think you are,  give me my f…. pills”.    “Who the F…. do you think you are bitch, you don’t own me”.    The louder you got the higher I turned up the radio.   Trying to stay calm and not become as ugly as you.   You push my buttons.   You light up in my car and blow the smoke in my face.    I snap.

The dirt road is empty except for my car.   I pull over in a cloud of dust and hit my brakes hard.   I tell you to get the hell out.   I jump out my door and run to open my hatch.   I am cussing and shaking and spitting mad.    I grab your luggage and throw it to the ground.   My adrenalin  is pumping.   I am throwing your bags as far as I can into the dirt and stomping the shit out of them.   I have officially lost my mind.   I walk to your door and hear the click.   Your smiling face greets me through your window.   I am beating on your window screaming at you to open the Fu….. door.   I watch in horror as you pull pills from your shoes,  grab a pen from my console and dismantle it.   I know what’s coming as I’m pulling on the door handle and screaming Noooooooo.   I throwing my body into the door beating the glass with my fists.   You crush the pills on my dashboard and bend your head toward the dirty powder.   I’m kicking in the door as my hands are numb and bleeding from beating the car.   I’m screaming and completely unaware that we are no longer alone.

I feel his hands on my shoulders before I see the uniform.    He tells me to back away from the car.   My mind is still screaming.   “Are you Fu….. kidding me officer.   Get the F…..  away from me”.   “I’m trying to break into my car,  yes, you heard me,  my car,  my son snorting drugs”.   My sobs are making it difficult to speak.    He tells me to stand back as he approaches your window.   I follow standing right behind him.    I want to get my hands around your throat and squeeze the shit out of you.   Let me at him, my mind screams, let me at him!   You are so polite as you roll down your window and smile at the officer.   My dashboard wiped clean and the dismantled pen no where in site.   I hear your words,  “Yes officer, I’m ok”.    “My mother has the problem”.    You lying shit.   I have the problem.    The officer looks at me like I’m the crazy one.   “Sir why don’t you step out of the car and help me load your bags.   “Officer, are you F….. kidding me”.    “Are you stupid?”   “Don’t you see past this BS?”    He just snorted whatever and he’s happy as a clam soon to be in La La land.   The officer helps reload the bags and walks to the driver side where I’ve buckled myself in for the rest of the ride from hell.   “Where you headed?”   “I’m headed to Warwick, you know the drug rehab to drop off my precious cargo”.    I try to stay calm but in my mind I’m going to kill you as soon as I see his tail lights in the distance.   I’m going to throw you and your f….. shit out of my car, out of my life and drive off never looking back.   As if reading my mind,  “You’re almost there, I’ll escort you the rest of the way”.    He walks to his car and I grab your smiling face.   You are gone,  your eyes glazed over and drooping.   I drop your face and listen to your breathing.   I’m shaking and sobbing.   My hands throbbing as I grab the wheel and follow the yellow brick road.

There are no more words as you sleep the rest of the way.   I’m so ready to get rid of you.   I’m shocked at my behavior, ashamed at who I’ve become.   Your demons take control of my soul.   Your addiction makes me ugly.

Warwick is beautiful.   The perfect setting.   Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, I felt like I’d pulled into our vacation spot.   I hit the brakes hard and startle you awake.   Ok shit head, get out.   Once again I’m throwing your bags out the door into the dirt.   You get out and I get in.   “See ya,  Matt, I’m out of here”.    A man walks to my car.   “You can’t just leave”.    “WHAT,  you are expecting him, I called and he already has a bed”.    “Sorry, you have to wait until he is evaluated by a counselor”.    Ok, now I’m gonna start punching people in their smug little faces.   “No one shared that little bit of information with me on the phone, I’ve got news for you buddy, he’s staying”.   “No Ma’am,  he’s not.  Not unless you obey the rules and let us talk to him first”.    You are taking this all in,  my sly fox sitting on the porch like I’m the big bad wolf and you are the innocent.   “How long?”   “I’ve spent two and a half hours in my car.  I have had nothing to eat or drink and I’m ready to scream”.    “Don’t know,  these things take time”.   Just as I’m ready to scream I see a man approach you, shake hands and take you to another building.   Thank God.   I start to walk toward the water.   Just what I need, to sit in those beautiful chairs and stare into the water.  Ok, I’m thinking.   I can do this.   I start to walk toward the beautiful blue of the bay. “Ma’am,  you have to wait in your car.  The grounds are for patients only”.    I turn on him like a cobra ready to strike.   “Listen to me A.H.   I’ve been stuck in that car with my withdrawing, ugly addict son.   I’ve been cussed at,  called MFer and other lovely words that are music to my ears.   If I don’t get to sit by that water you’re going have to call my patrol car buddy and have me taken away”.   “You got that, buddy”.

I don’t even give him a chance to respond.   I break out into a run toward the water.   F.U, F.U,  my mind is going crazy,  I’m breathless as I make it to the chairs.   My tears flow, mixed with hysterical laughter.   Well Matt,  I’ve made a complete ass out of myself today.   All in the name of saving you.  How in the hell did this happen.   If anyone saw me today.   Oh God, what am I turning into.   I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t hear the approaching footsteps.   It’s the man who took you away.   He tells me you are permitted to stay.   I jump out of my chair and practically run to my car.   You are there sitting on the same porch surrounded by your bags.   I approach with caution.   “Matt, do what you need to do”.   “You better get it right this time, I don’t know how much more I can take”.    You take a drag of your smoke and look at me with those beautiful eyes.   Those eyes I fell in love with when I first held you.   Those eyes that always told me you loved me.   Those eyes that melt my heart no matter how ugly we become.   Today I must not let you get to my heart.   Today I must protect myself.   Today I almost lost my mind.   Your demons hiding behind those beautiful eyes.   I turn as my tears come.

The ride home is peaceful.   I keep my window down.   I need to feel air and hear nature.   No music just the sounds of life.   I stop to get gas and a drink.   Buckling up I feel something sharp.   I wrap my fingers around the tube and pull it out from my seat.   The dismantled pen.   Your demons hitching a ride home.   I want to scream.  To throw them to the ground and stomp the life out of them.   I feel the ugliness that has taken over my being surfacing.   I can not let them steal my soul, they already have my son.   I throw the tube out my window as far as I can.     F.U, I shout. F.U.   My soul belongs to me.  My son belongs to me.  I’m no longer the Mad Hatter, just the mad mother of a man suffering from the ugly disease of addiction…

 

 

 

 

 

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